The Nativity; the Birth of Jesus Christ
In the land of Judea, in the town of Nazareth, there lived a young woman named Mary. She was very happy because she was going to marry Joseph, who was a carpenter. One day, well before their wedding day, an angel named Gabriel was sent to visit Mary.
Gabriel looked down upon Mary and said, "Hail, most favored one. The Lord is with you. Blessed are you among women."
The angel could see that Mary was frightened and he told her, "Do not be afraid. You have found favor with God. Soon you shall have a son and you will call him Jesus. He will be great, and his kingdom shall have no end."
This bothered Mary even more. "How can I have a child," she asked Gabriel. "I am not married to Joseph yet"
Gabriel smiled down at Mary and said, "The Holy Spirit will come to you. The son born to you will be holy, and he shall be called the Son of God"
Then the angel told her something else. Mary's cousin, Elizabeth was also going to have a baby. Elizabeth and her husband Zacharias had been wanting a baby for many years, and now that they were old, they did not think it would ever happen. "With God, all things are possible." said Gabriel.
Mary lowered her head and said, "I am the servant of the Lord. Let it happen as you say."
With those words, the angel disappeared.
Mary did not tell anyone about the visit, and a few days later, she went up into the hills to visit her cousin.
Mary was very surprised to learn that Elizabeth was going to be a mother. Mary told Elizabeth of the visit from the angel and then said, "My soul praises the Lord, for he has done great things to me. From now on, people will call me blessed."
While Mary was with Elizabeth, Joseph had a dream. He dreamt that an angel came to him.
The angel said, "Take Mary as your wife. She is going to have a baby, but it is of the Holy Spirit. You shall call him Jesus, and he will save people from their sins."
When Mary returned from visiting with Elizabeth three months later, she became Joseph's bride. Mary and Joseph were very happy in Nazareth, and Mary's stomach grew large with the child inside. One day the Emporer, Augustus, said that there would be a new tax, and each man must go to the place of his birth and register for the tax. Joseph's family was from the family of King David who had lived in Bethlehem, so Mary packed a few belongings and they set out for that town.
It was a long journey, and because she was expecting a child, Mary got tired very quickly. Joseph helped her up onto their donkey, so that she could ride to Bethlehem.
When Mary and Joseph finally got to Bethlehem, the streets were crowded with visitors from all over the country. Mary's baby was about to be born, and they hurried to find a room at one of the inns, but there were none empty. Everything was filled for miles around. What were they to do? Mary could not have her baby on the streets.
Finally, a kind innkeeper told them that they could sleep in his stable.
That night, Mary gave birth to her tiny son and named him Jesus. She wrapped the baby in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger to sleep, because he had no crib.
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